Athletes, officials get financial boost from government

For many Yukon athletes and sports officials, money scrounging just got put on the backburner, granting them time to concentrate on winning their…

For many Yukon athletes and sports officials, money scrounging just got put on the backburner, granting them time to concentrate on winning their next meet or tournament.

This season, the government is handing out $913,200 to a variety of Yukon sport and recreation groups.

“Funding sport and recreation organizations is vital to their ability to support the efforts of the thousands of volunteers engaged in the delivery of sport, recreation and active-living programs throughout Yukon,” said Community Services Minister Glenn Hart in a recent news release.

“The efforts of these volunteers and the resources they are able to access are the key ingredients that provide opportunities for all Yukoners to enjoy physically active lifestyles.”

Not all of the beneficiaries will receive equal amounts. The largest chunk of change is going to 25 sport-governing bodies, which will split $515,200.

Another $190,000 has been allocated to seven Yukon special recreation groups, while Sport Yukon has $130,000 heading its way. The high-performance athlete and officials programs will receive $78,000.

“We are very pleased to increase the funds available for distribution under the high-performance assistance program for 2008/2009 by an additional $34,000 from our Yukon sport-for-life funding initiative,” said Hart in his release.

“The season is not cheap,” said David Greer, a cross-country skier training full time in Quebec, who received $7,000 under the high performance assistance program.

“I think last year it cost me $17,000, so it’s really going to help me,” he said.

“I have to find a place down here in Quebec; I have to live, pay rent, pay for food and travel. And airfare is getting pretty expensive these days. We go to about 15 races a year and most of those we have to fly to.”

But not all the grant recipients are getting money to improve their game.

For nine of the 30 beneficiaries, the money is set to raise their ability to improve the skills of others. These nine are officials in their sports, who often spend their own money travelling to sports events as coaches or referees.

“In order for us to actually become full-fledged badminton officials — that is, accredited badminton officials — we have to put in a certain minimum number of officiating of games,” said Kelly Choy, a teacher and badminton coach at Porter Creek Secondary School, who received the same $500 amount as the other eight officials in the high performance grants.

“(I) certainly did several at the Arctic Winter Games, but you also have to officiate in more than one set of games,” she said.

“The hope is with the $500 that it would offset the cost of getting to other locations outside the Yukon, where provincial level or higher level badminton is occurring.”

These grants “represent the first phase of funding for the 2008/09” season, according to the release.

The grants, which are a result of a revenue-sharing agreement between the government of Yukon and Yukon Lottery Commission, are determined by members of the sport community and the Yukon government.